Lane shakes the monkey off his back

In a 2007 tournament on Clarks Hill Lake, Chris Lane led by an even 5 pounds going into the final day. But he made mistakes, and watched his lead wither and die as Mike McClelland claimed the $100,000 Bassmaster Elite Series win.

That Clarks Hill experience has been “a monkey on my back” that now is gone, he said, banished by his Jan. 21 win on the Harris Chain of Lakes by more than 14 pounds in the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Southern Open.

Just like in 2007, he took the lead on Day 2 at the Harris Open by 5-plus pounds. This time, though, he made no mistakes as he worked an area of Lake Griffin.

“That was one of the most enjoyable days fishing I’ve ever had,” he said. “Being able to go out with a 5-pound lead on the last day and keep it was a blessing.”

He bagged 28 pounds, 5 ounces, of bass on the final day, an astounding feat on any tournament day, but especially on a day when the pressure’s on. Lane said three factors helped him do it.

“There was a south wind that I think was truly God-sent,” he said. “And the water temperature was 3 degrees colder than it was the first day, and it allowed those big female bass to stay on the outside edge and not push up into the lily pads and scatter. And, with me being the only boat in there the last day, the fish bit better.”

His final three-day weight was 72 pounds, 11 ounces. The prize package included an entry into the 2013 Bassmaster Classic. To claim it, he must compete in the other two events of the 2012 Southern Open season, which he said he plans to do.

“Having a Classic berth so early is a huge mental relief, and it allows me to set my sights a little higher, to really go for a win, take some risks, rather than fish for points toward a Classic berth,” said Lane, who grew up in Florida but who now lives in Guntersville, Ala.

Next up for Lane is the 2012 Bassmaster Classic, Feb. 24-26 on the Red River out of Shreveport-Bossier City, La. It will be his second Classic appearance.

“2012 started out with a bang, and I’m ready to keep going,” said Lane. “I’m anxious to get to the Classic and fish that, anxious to get the year going.”